In a rapid Brainsnacks-style session, four presenters shared insights into audience engagement innovations at their companies on Friday afternoon at the INMA European News Media Conference.

To maximise its exclusive rights to the Olympic Winter Games, Eesti Media started pre-game activities six months before the Games, at the end of the summer. It was the first time in Estonia’s history that the company had these rights, Raido Soon, sales director at Eesti, said.

“We felt that it actually put us in a real spotlight,” he said.

Raido Soon, sales director at Eesti Media, discusses strategies to take advantage of the company's exclusive rights to the Olympic Winter Games.
Raido Soon, sales director at Eesti Media, discusses strategies to take advantage of the company's exclusive rights to the Olympic Winter Games.

With support of its editorial team, the company aimed to monetise the event in a way that was not only profitable, but would engage users in a friendly way.

A positive, exciting collection of activities and content offered sponsors a high-valued product across TV, mobile, and print.

“We had a drawing contest for kids to actually get the younger audience to come along with us,” Soom said. 

The contest had more than 1,000 entries. A sports quiz online had more than 40,000 unique participants. More than 11,000 people voted for their favourite Estonian athlete. The company already has rights to the 2020 Games in Tokyo, and two sponsors have already signed up. This would not have been possible without the support of editorial, Eesti said: “Ninety percent could not been done without the support of our editorial parts.” 

Editorial is the crux of a successful initiative at Croatia’s 24 Sata. Alen Galovic, the company’s editor, said that in today’s divided attention media economy, it sometimes feels like stories 24 Sata publishes do not have the power or reach they deserve.

“Big, front page story can so easily be lost in space,” he said.

Alen Galovic, editor of 24 Sata, shares the media company's “megacover” story success.
Alen Galovic, editor of 24 Sata, shares the media company's “megacover” story success.

When journalists found out that a man with no known identity was about to be kicked out of his home of 36 years, a psychiatric hospital, they knew they had to treat this story differently. After a 24-hour campaign across all its platforms, the company’s first “megacover” story reached 2.7 million in a country of 4.2 million people. The man’s brother and sister recognised him, and he was admitted into an institution with the resources to give him care he needed.

Now, the megacover is a tool in the pocket of 24 Sata’s editorial team.

“Megacover is our tool to show big stories, front page stories, are worthy of all our attention,” Galovic said.

In the fight for attention, VOL.AT applied gamification tactics to its product, said Georg Burtscher, managing director at Russmedia Digital.

VOL.AT knew it could have a membership model without a log-in structure, but the team was unsure how to make registration valuable for users. It looked to the App Store for inspiration.

Georg Burtscher, managing director at Russmedia Digital, describes the company's App Store-inspired membership programme.
Georg Burtscher, managing director at Russmedia Digital, describes the company's App Store-inspired membership programme.

“Even on the most downloaded apps are games, and the top grossing apps are games” Burtscher said. “But they’re all free.”

Working with Fehr Advice out of Switzerland, the team developed technology it could use to build a membership programme. Users earn points, called Landlepunkte, for their activity on the app or Web site. So far, more than two million points have been collected. 

The company also sells this technology to partners. During the World Cup, users collected more than six billion points on a partner’s platform. This proves the power of gamification and its potential for news and beyond, Burtscher said: “Everyone can work to build a community.”

In a quest to help media achieve their objectives, Silvan Schumacher, co-founder and chief executive officer of Swanest, worked with the leading publisher of business media in Belgium.

Mediafin’s Investment Assistant, a tool that helps people build personalised investment portfolios, was only discovered by readers when it was advertised. There was no discovery outside advertisement periods. 

Schumacher said this was cause for reflection: “We put our hats together and thought: How can we build this bridge?” 

The addition of plug-ins provides insights on content. A soon-to-launch tool, the world’s first Robo-Analysis predicts the risks and potential earnings of investments. 

“And of course, we can include in this report meaningful calls to action,” Schumacher said. 

This helps build a bridge between content and tools, he added.